How Seiichi Miyake and Tactile Paving Changed the World for Visually Impaired People

iStock.com/RonBailey
iStock.com/RonBailey

More than 140 years after Louis Braille invented the Braille reading system, Seiichi Miyake came up with a different system based on touch that allows visually impaired people to navigate public spaces. Today, tactile paving is used by major cities and transportation services around the world. Miyake was so influential that he's the subject of the Google Doodle for March 18, the 52nd anniversary of tactile paving's debut.

The Japanese inventor designed the influential system with a specific person in mind. His friend was losing his vision, so in 1965, Miyake used his own money to build special mats with raised shapes that lead blind and visually impaired people away from danger and toward safety. Pavement with round bumps was meant to signal nearby danger, such as a street crossing or the edge of a train platform, while a stretch of pavement with straight bars was meant to guide them to safe areas. The tactile design allowed pedestrians to detect the features with canes, guide dogs, or their feet.

Originally called Tenji blocks, the tactile pavement was first installed outside the Okayama School for the Blind in Okayama, Japan in 1967. They quickly spread to larger cities, like Tokyo and Osaka, and within a decade, Miyake's system was mandatory in all Japanese rail stations.

Seiichi Miyake died in 1982 at age 56, but the popularity of his invention has only grown since his death. In the 1990s, the U.S., the UK, and Canada embraced tactile pavement in their cities. Miyake's initial design has been built upon throughout the years; there are now pill-shaped bumps to indicate changes in direction and raised lines running perpendicular to foot traffic to signal upcoming steps. And even though they're often thought of as tools for blind people, the bright colors used in tactile pavement also make them more visible to pedestrians with visual impairments.

This Cool T-Shirt Shows Every Object Brought on the Apollo 11 Mission

Fringe Focus
Fringe Focus

NASA launched the Apollo 11 mission on July 16, 1969, ending the space race and beginning a new era of international space exploration. Just in time for the mission's 50th anniversary this year, Fringe Focus is selling a t-shirt that displays every item the Apollo 11 astronauts brought with them to the Moon.

The design, by artist Rob Loukotka, features some of the iconic objects from the mission, such as a space suit and helmet, as well as the cargo that never made it to primetime. Detailed illustrations of freeze-dried meals, toiletries, and maintenance kits are included on the shirt. The artist looked at 200 objects and chose to represent some similar items with one drawing, ending up with 69 pictures in total.

The unisex shirt is made from lightweight cotton, and comes in seven sizes ranging from small to 4XL. It's available in black heather or heather midnight navy for $29.

If you really like the design, the artwork is available in other forms. The same illustration has also been made into poster with captions indicating which pictures represent multiple items of a similar nature.

The Reason Sneakers Have an Extra Set of Holes

iStock/PredragImages
iStock/PredragImages

If you examine your favorite items of clothing closely enough, you may start to ask questions like: Why are shirt buttons on different sides for men and women? (Because, historically, women didn't dress themselves.) Or why do my jeans have a tiny pocket? (To hold your pocket watch, of course.) Both of the clothing quirks mentioned above are relics of a different time, but if you look at your sneakers, you'll find a commonly-ignored detail that can be useful to your daily life.

Most sneakers have an extra set of holes above the laces that are often left empty. The holes may not line up exactly with the rest of the laces, indicating that they're there to serve a special purpose. For many situations, ignoring this pair of holes is totally fine, but if you're tying up your shoes before a rigorous run or hike, you should take advantage of them.

The video below from the company Illumiseen illustrates how to create a heel lock with these extra holes. Start by taking one lace and poking it through the hole directly above it to create a loop, and then do the same with the lace on the other side. Next, take the ends of both laces and pull them through the opposite loops. Tighten the laces by pulling them downwards rather than up. After creating the heel lock, secure it with a regular bow tie.

What this method does is tighten the opening of your shoe around your ankle, thus preventing your heel from sliding against the back of it as you run. It also stops your toe from banging against the front of your shoe. The heel lock is especially handy for long runs, walks, and other activities that often end with heel blisters and bruised toes. Even if you aren't slipping on your shoes for exercise, lacing up those extra holes can make a loose-fitting sneaker feel more comfortable.

Of course, the trick only works as long as your laces stayed tied—which even the most expertly-tied knot can't guarantee. Here's some of the science behind why your shoes often untie themselves.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER